Justin Trudeau urges Taoiseach to liberalise Irish abortion laws

UPDATE 8.30: Leo Varadkar is expected to tackle the issue of childcare on day two of his Canadian visit today.

Mr Varadkar kicked off his trip yesterday by revealing he wants to hold a referendum on the eighth amendment in the first half of next year.

In an article in the Irish Independent The Taoiseach says he wants to provide greater parental leave, increase homecare support and invest in after-school care.

EARLIER: Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has told the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to liberalise Ireland’s abortion laws, as to have the choice is a “fundamental human right”, writes Daniel McConnell

Mr Varadkar is in Canada on an official three-day visit, which marks the second visit of a taoiseach in less than four months. Enda Kenny travelled to Montreal and Toronto in May as one of his final major foreign trips.

The two leaders, who hit it off when Mr Trudeau visited Dublin last month, held a bilateral meeting but the prime minister was asked what advice he would give the Taoiseach as the debate here over the controversial Eighth Amendment escalates.

Canada’s liberal abortion regime is often cited as an example for Ireland to follow and Mr Trudeau said that giving women a choice is not just a women’s rights issue but one of fundamental human rights.

“On the issue of reproductive rights, I shared our perspective that such rights are integral to women’s rights and they are human rights and I asked him to look at it as a fundamental human right and we had a good discussion,” said Mr Trudeau.

At the start of his official engagements, Mr Varadkar was welcomed with full military honours, including a 19-gun salute, at the Royal Highland Regiment Armoury in the city.

Mr Varadkar was shown a piece of shared Canadian and Irish military history.

A Canadian gun built in Quebec during the Second World War subsequently changed hands — sold first to the Dutch and then to the Irish Defence Forces in 1970 — and was returned to Canada as a gift some years ago.

The Taoiseach has said the invitation to US president Donald Trump to visit Ireland still stands, despite worldwide criticism of him.

Mr Varadkar also said he intends to visit the White House in March next year for St Patrick’s Day. He said the importance of the relationship between Ireland and the US transcends any individual politician or leader, so the invitation stands.

On the invitation of the Canadian prime minister, the Taoiseach joined Mr Trudeau at the Montreal Pride Parade yesterday.

Mr Varadkar, Ireland’s first openly gay Taoiseach, has attended Pride celebrations in Dublin and Belfast since taking office.

He had travelled from Chicago to Montreal after holidaying with his partner Dr Matthew Barrett, who is based in the US city.

Tomorrow, the Taoiseach has engagements in Toronto aimed at growing trade, tourism, and investment between Ireland and Canada. Trade between the countries is worth over €2.75bn.


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